Reality check: Hull stun Premier League champions Leicester
Claudio Ranieri’s men suffer embarrassing 2-1 defeat in season opener
Claudio Ranieri says Leicester City’s shock 2-1 defeat against troubled Hull City on Saturday should serve as a reality check for the English Premier League champions.
Ranieri’s side were stunned by goals from Adama Diomande and Robert Snodgrass at the KCOM Stadium.
Foxes boss Ranieri believes Leicester’s loss proves how hard it will be to defend the title now that everyone is more aware of his team’s qualities.
“I told my players this season will be harder than last season. Today was a normal match, maybe a draw was normal, but we lost it,” Ranieri said.
“For this reason I told them we must be very strong together because last season we showed ourselves as a very good team and we need to repeat that.”
Noticeably less vibrant without N’Golo Kante, the France midfielder who joined Chelsea in the close season, Leicester paid the price for poor finishing and defensive mistakes.
Ranieri refused to criticise individuals, but he did admit his team had delivered an error-strewn display.
“They [Hull] played better. We tried to do our best. Our commitment was amazing, but it was individual, not as a team. We tried to win, but sometimes it’s impossible. We made some mistakes and we have to think where we made them.”
Just three months after their astonishing title triumph, Claudio Ranieri’s side were undone by a team whose preparations for the new campaign were marred by the resignation of manager Steve Bruce and their failure to sign a single player.
Diomande gave Hull a first-half lead before Riyad Mahrez brought Leicester level with a penalty shortly after the second half resumed.
Snodgrass drove in the winner 12 minutes into the second half as a team in crisis on and off the pitch became the first to beat the defending English champions on opening day since Manchester United defeated Arsenal in 1989.
“It was great to see the team and staff all pull together and surprise so many people. The players have enjoyed themselves today,” said Hull caretaker manager Mike Phelan.
Hull have approached the season in a state of turmoil, with no permanent manager following Bruce’s resignation on July 22, and a thin squad stretched to its limits by injuries.
Phelan went into the game with just 13 fit senior players, and named a substitutes’ bench consisting largely of untried youngsters, including three teenagers.
Meanwhile, a superb header by Argentine Erik Lamela earned Tottenham a 1-1 draw at Everton on Ronald Koeman’s Premier League debut as the Toffees coach after Ross Barkley gave the home side an early lead at Goodison Park yesterday.
England midfielder Barkley provided Koeman with a perfect start to the season after floating in a fifth-minute free kick, which evaded everyone in the penalty area and beat Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris at the far post. Lloris limped off with a hamstring injury in the 36th minute.
Tottenham dominated after the break and got a deserved equaliser on the hour mark when Lamela turned in Kyle Walker’s cross.
“We had a big, big chance close to half-time with Gerard Deulofeu. They had two big chances, too, but I think it is a fair result,” said Koeman. “The reaction of the crowd and fans was fantastic. I am very pleased about our first performance against a very good team.”
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said: “The first half was difficult for us and we did not play well. Hugo Lloris got injured and that had a big impact on us. In the second half, we played as we usually play.
In other matches, Southampton and Watford drew 1-1, Swansea City won 1-0 away at Burnley, West Bromwich Albion grabbed a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace while Middlesbrough and Stoke City fought out a 1-1 draw.
Additional reporting by Reuters